Mom brought in a loaf of some shiny, brown, braided baked good and I asked "What is that?"
Mom said, in her own way "It's 'Jeeew-eesh Aig Bread'! Challah! You'll love it".
Ok, mom was right. Even if her pronunciation of the words with stresses on the wrong vowels was a bit wonky.
If you grew up in Cherry Hill, NJ, you could expect to be exposed to a little Jewish Culture, and a lot of Jewish food. It was always good and filling, and some of it was excellent.
To this day, I have to keep bagels in the freezer and a Sesame Bagel, toasted, with Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Cream Cheese, and of course a generous portion of fresh Nova Lox is a special treat.
The other day I noticed that I was low on bread and low on bagels. I flashed back to mom and her conversations about this special bread and went looking. I have a habit of saving off recipes that "you folks" are passing by me either on Facebook or even on physical paper.
Physically print out a recipe? Go fig!
Since I really needed rolls and bagels, making a giant family sized braid that would get a bit stale toward the end.
Now here's a hint - the difference between rolls, bagels, and pretzels is in the preparation.
- Rolls are left to rise naturally.
- Pretzels are partially risen yeast dough that is then rolled and boiled in either a lye or baking soda mix.
- Bagels are partially risen yeast dough that is rolled, re-risen partially, and boiled in water sweetened with honey, sugar, molasses or Barley Malt Syrup.
So that's what I did. I made Challah Dough, rolled out balls of dough, punched holes in half of them and stretched them to make the bagel shape. Once I allowed it to rise partially, over an hour, I boiled the bagels in 3 cups of water plus 3 tablespoons of Barley Malt Syrup.
Why Barley Malt Syrup, especially when it is so bloody tough to find? It was because everywhere I looked suggested that it was the best. Frankly it tasted like the same molasses I used to make the Gingerbread Cookies that I make from time to time.
So here we go, yet another recipe!
I used the Stand Mixer and a dough hook to make this dough. I suggest that you do the same, but cut the recipe down to 1/2 since it makes 2 loaves. My mixer was overtaxed by the long mixing that I had done, and got to smelling quite hot toward the end.
- 1 1/2 packages active dry yeast (1 1/2 tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
- 5 large eggs - 4 for dough, 1 for egg wash
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 8 to 8 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup raisins per challah, if using, plumped in hot water and drained
- Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling.
Proof your Yeast:
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water.
- Allow the Yeast to begin to bubble and froth. This should take about 10 to 15 minutes.
Begin to make your Dough:
- Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt.
- You can take a shortcut and add these ingredients to the mixer as above and let the mixer do the work.
- Gradually add flour.
- When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading.
Kneading and Rising:
- Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. This step can also be done in a stand mixer to save your hands, which is how I did it.
- Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl.
- Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size.
- Dough may also rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off.
- Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.
If you are going to use the raisins, now is the time to knead them in.
To make the dough into bagels,
- Roll the dough into balls and punch your thumb through the center.
- Then begin to stretch out the dough until you get the desired shape.
- I was able to fit 8 fingers inside the hole in the middle to get these bagels.
- For "Normal" Sized Bagels I used 80 grams of dough for each, or about 3 ounces.
- For "Bagel Shop" sized bagels, use up to 5 ounces of dough - it really is up to you!
To make the dough into the traditional braided shapes:
- Divide the dough into six equal sized pieces.
- Roll each piece into a "snake" of around 1 foot long.
- Braid three snakes together and make two loaves.
- If you don't know how to braid, ask your kid sister.
- When I made these into bagels, I allowed 1 hour of rise and got some very fluffy bagels. You may go with less time for a more chewy bagel.
- For Challah or any other loaf of bread, you should allow 2 hours of rise to allow the flavor to develop.
Preparation for the oven:
- Bagels will be boiled in water that has either Barley Malt Syrup, Molasses, Honey, or Sugar in the water.
- I used a 2 quart sauce pan with 3 cups water and 3 tablespoons of Barley Malt Syrup.
- Boil each bagel for 30 seconds per side.
- For Challah, you will want to prepare an egg wash with the last egg and brush it all over the top evenly.
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Bake bagels and rolls for at least 13 minutes or until golden brown.
- Bake full sized Challah loaf up to 30 to 40 minutes.
- These are done when interior temperature reaches 190F with an instant read thermometer.